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Mongolian Ground Jay - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Henderson's Ground-Jay; Black-tailed Ground-Jay; Mongolian Desert Jay; Henderson's Ground-Chough

Photo by Xujie
Chinese and Mongolian Border China
Podoces hendersoni


Photo by Askar Isabekov
Xinjiang, China, August 2007

28cm. A distinctive corvid:

  • Glossy black centre of crown and nape
  • Pale sandy rest of head
  • Sandy brown upperparts, richest on scapulars, rump and uppertail-coverts
  • Black and white wings
  • Glossy blue-black tail
  • Sandy buff underparts
  • Black, gently down-curved bill
  • Dark brown eye
  • Black legs

Sexes similar. Juveniles with dull black wings (instead of glossy)

Similar species

Similar to Xinjiang Ground-Jay but note black tail and lack of black on throat.


Found in south-central Russia (Tuva), west and southern Mongolia and northwest and north China. A single record in Kazakhstan in 1962.
Uncommon and threatened by habitat destruction.


This is a monotypic species[1].

Forms a species pair with Xinjiang Ground-Jay and is sometimes included with the latter in the genus Eupodoces.


Stony or gravel desert and semi-desert with some bushes. Usually between 1000 and 1700m but recorded up to 3800m.


Prefers to run rather than fly from potential danger.


Feeds omnivorous on insects, small lizards, seeds and other plant material.


Breeding recorded from March to May. The nest is a bowl made of twigs and rootlets. It's placed low in a bush, rarely among boulders. Lays 3 - 4 eggs.
A resident species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

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